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PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Peru is the Peruvian New SOL (I will refer to them as P$s). At the time of writing, US$1 = P$3.36.
We (my sister Diane, my brother-in-law Jeff, and I) had completed our tour of Machu Picchu and The Sacred Valley.
And, our tour of Lake Titicaca.
We ended up in La Paz, Bolivia.
It was, now, time to make our way back to Lima on Peru Hop …
There is NO assigned seating. Seating is a ‘free for all’. This, usually, means that there is a bit of an unnecessary ‘scramble’ to get on the bus to get the best seats. The Double Decker bus has ‘executive’ (2 by 1) seating downstairs …
This, invariably, means that there is an even bigger ‘scramble’ to get onto the Double Decker … everybody wants to get a seat downstairs! The Double Decker bus has a toilet – but ONLY FOR LIQUIDS!
There is nothing ‘special’ about these buses. They are no better than what other companies offer on these routes. The main advantages of Peru Hop are that they provide:
- Guides that speak both English and Spanish;
- The ability and flexibility to hop on and off for as long as you like at each named town;
- Assistance across the Peru-Bolivian border;
- Blankets on night buses;
- USB charging points;
- Pick up and drop off to your hotel;
- On-line travel date booking and adjustment.
For these ‘extras’ you, effectively, pay about (I would say) a 33% price ‘premium’.
As aforementioned, we arrived in La Paz on the Single Decker Peru Hop bus from Copacabana.
We wanted to stay in the main tourist area / historical centre near the Witches Market.
We booked ourselves 2 Double Rooms with Private Bathrooms at the Belmont Hotel. We paid US$20 per night per room.
The Peru Hop bus doesn’t arrive in La Paz until after 10:30pm at night. We emailed the Belmont in advance to inform them of our late arrival. It made no difference … when we arrived they had already given our rooms to other people! They tried to put us into lesser rooms with a shared bathroom. Eventually, we managed to get rooms with a private bathroom.
They made sure that they replenished the stocks as slowly as possible … so that people ate as little as possible.
On my previous trip to La Paz I stayed in Hotel Avenida.
With Private Bathroom.
WHAT TO DO / TOURS:
Simply put … La Paz is busy, dirty, and ‘uninspiring’.
There are several ‘colour coded’ sections. Each section costs BOB3 each (about US$0.45c). Alternatively, you can buy an eCard for BOB30 that contains BOB15 in travel credits at discounted rates: this would be a better choice if you plan to stay in La Paz a few days and get around on the Cable Car.
PLEASE NOTE: If you get off in the middle of a section, you cannot get back on using your previous ticket. You have to buy another one for BOB3 – even if you only have 1 more stop to go.
More adventurous people, like me, can walk back to town from El Alto down steep steps and steep side roads. But, for your safety, only do so during daylight … you walk past lots of dogs that will get increasingly territorial as night falls … and, you walk through some ‘dodgy’ suburbs.
Don’t waste your time in La Paz. Spend a day on the Cable Car jumping on and off to see the best bits … then, get out as fast as you can.
Peru Hop pick you up from your hotel between 6:30am and 7:00am in the morning.
There are toilets (BOB1), shops, and street food stalls.
The whole process takes about 30 minutes. You get back on the bus and arrived in Copacabana at about 11:30am. Peru Hop do not drop you off at your hotel. They only stop at the White Anchor on the waterfront.
HOTEL ESTELAR DEL TITICACA:
We booked ourselves into 2 Double Rooms with Private Bathrooms at the Hotel Estelar del Titicaca.
Both included an American Buffet Breakfast.
I had been to Copacabana previously. On that occasion, I booked myself into Hostel Sonia.
WHAT TO DO / TOURS:
ISLA LUNA / ISLA DEL SOL:
Read my blog about Lake Titicaca.
Don’t do the 1/2 Day Peru Hop Isla Del Sol Tour. Instead, stay 2 nights so that you can do a full 1 Day Tour of Isla Del Sol. Only do Isla Del Sol. Including Isla Luna takes up too much time and isn’t worth it. You can get a 1 Day tour for the same price that Peru Hop charge for their 1/2 Day Tour … but in the 1 Day Tour you get much more time on the island.
The Single Decker Peru Hop bus leaves Copacabana at 5pm and arrives in Puno at 8pm.
From Copacabana it is only about 15 minutes to the border. You get off the bus at Bolivia Migration, get stamped out, walk 200 meters into Peru, and get stamped in at Peru Migration.
You, then, get onto a new Peru Hop bus. This bus is a Double Decker that goes on to Cusco via Puno.
As aforementioned, it is a ‘scramble’ to get the Business Class seats downstairs. In my humble opinion, Peru Hop should reserve the Business Class seats for those continuing overnight to Cusco … but, they don’t.
We managed to get 3 Business Class Seats by sending my sister ahead to get to the front of the queue whilst we sorted out the bags.
Read my blog on Lake Titicaca.
On our way from Cusco to La Paz, we booked 2 nights at the Suites Antonio.
WHAT TO DO / TOURS:
Again, read my blog on Lake Titicaca.
On this occasion, we were not staying in Puno but continuing on the Peru Hop Bus to Arequipa.
The Peru Hop Bus arrives in Puno at 8pm. Those continuing on to Cusco and Arequipa get off for Dinner. Our guide took us all to a cheap restaurant. We ate a 3 course meal for a reasonable price of P$20.
We were back on our bus (in the same Business Class seats) at 9:30pm.
The Double Decker bus continues north to Cusco. Those going to Arequipa stay on the bus until it meets another Peru Hop Bus coming south from Cusco to Arequipa. The buses pass each other at about 1am in the morning. Ours met near Pucara.
We transferred to our new Single Decker Bus on the side of the road. We arrived in Arequipa at 5:30am. Peru Hop organised a taxi (at their cost) to take us to our hotel.
We booked 2 rooms at Hostel La Reyna. Di & Jeff booked the Deluxe Double at US$22 per night including Breakfast. I booked the Deluxe Queen at US$13 per night including Breakfast.
Our plan was to do the 2D/1N Colca Canyon Tour. So, we booked 2 nights each with 1 night in between so that we could leave our main luggage at the hotel whilst we did the tour.
Our rooms included Breakfast. Because we were leaving before Breakfast the next morning, they were kind enough to let us have our free Breakfast on the morning that we arrived … as we waited for our rooms to become available.
WHAT TO DO / TOURS:
We shopped around and finally negotiated a price of P$150 each. In addition, you need to pay a P$70 Park Entrance Fee. You, typically, go in a 16-seater minivan. We were picked up from our hotel at 7am.
And, finally reached the start of Colca Canyon itself.
You can easily and happily spend several nights in Arequipa. It is a picturesque town with a lovely historical centre.
Fit in a Colca Canyon trip whilst you are there. Try and do at least the 1 night trip … going there and back in 1 day would be very tiring.
You leave Arequipa at 5:45am and don’t arrive in Nazca until 4pm.
We had to be ready outside our hotel at 5:15am. We were picked up by a taxi and taken across town to the bus pickup point. The bus was late … we were connecting with the bus that comes down from Cusco.
In my opinion, this is the worst part of the Peru Hop trip. It is a boring journey … I don’t know why Peru Hop don’t do an over-night option.
Peru Hop do not recommend staying in Nazca … they suggest that you continue on to Huacachina (arriving there at 6:45pm) but we decided to stay in Nazca for a couple of nights.
We booked 2 Double Rooms with Private Bathroom at La Maison de Lydia. We paid US$19 per night per room.
And, included Breakfast.
It was on the edge of town so we needed to catch a taxi to/from the town centre but this small cost was more than compensated for by the great price of the rooms (compared to costs closer to the town centre) and the nice dipping pool offered at the hotel.
WHAT TO DO / TOURS:
It is important to choose a company with a good safety record. We booked online with AeroNasca and paid US$80 each. You pay another US$10 Airport Tax on top of that when you arrive at the airport.
You are advised to book a morning flight … the earlier the better … apparently, the wind starts picking up during the day … which can make the flights increasingly uncomfortable (and, sometimes, dangerous). Our plane took 6 passengers.
I see no reason why you shouldn’t stay in Nazca for 1 night. You can go out into town on your first evening. Next morning you can do the flight. Afterwards, you can do the Cemetery. If you do a very early flight, you could also fit in a trip to the Cahuachi Pyramids … and still be back in time to catch the Peru Hop bus to Huacachina at 4pm.
You re-connect with the Arequipa to Huacachina Single Decker Peru Hop bus at 4pm. They only drop off and pick up from Mom’s Cafe. It is a short 3 hour trip from Nazca to Huacachina.
In Huacachina, Peru Hop only drop off and pick up from outside of the Wild Rover.
We wanted to be close to the oasis … preferably with an oasis view … so we booked into the El Boulevard.
WHAT TO DO / TOURS:
Just chill and enjoy … but you really should climb the dunes at least once for a sunset.
If you want to taste Pisco, you need to pay for it. It’s a bit of a ‘trap’ really … but free if you have nothing else to do.
BUGGY / SANDBOARDING:
After that, you zip around in the buggy to 4-5 more increasingly hard dunes for more sandboarding. By the end, they are long, steep and quite scary … I don’t have any photos as I had to empty all of my pockets to do the sandboarding 🙂
Why rush … spend a couple of nights in this amazing location. You arrive late in the evening anyway. The Vineyard tour is very ‘ho hum’ but you should definitely do the sandboarding trip – even if you just stay in the buggy.
The Single Decker Peru Hop bus leaves Huacachina at 7:00pm from outside of the Wild Rover.
The bus is coming through from Arequipa, so there are already people on the bus … and, the usual ‘scramble’ to get on first to get the best seats.
It is a short journey. You arrive in Paracas at 8:30pm.
Peru Hop only pick up and drop off along the main road.
We booked ourselves into the Icthus Paracas Hotel. We booked 2 Superior Double Rooms at US$25 per night per room.
Breakfasts were another US$3 per person per day but, because of the mix up with the rooms, we negotiated free Breakfasts.
WHAT TO DO / TOURS:
Some have Happy Hours with, say, 2 large local beers costing P$18-20.
Returning to Paracas by about 1pm.
We went to Paracas to see Ballestas Island. Peru Hop offer 2 times: 8am or 10am for P$50 each. You meet outside the Los Frayes hotel.
There are plenty of seals to see.
Again, you arrive in Paracas late. So, you tend to spend your first evening in a waterfront restobar. I suggest that you only stay this 1 night. Do Ballestas at 8am. Do the National Park at 11am. Spend a few more hours on the waterfront. Catch the 5:30pm Peru Hop bus on to Lima.
The Single Decker Peru Hop bus leaves Paracas at 5:30pm. Pick up is from outside of the Los Frayles hotel.
They were a stark reminder of our disgraceful past.
On arrival, we had a problem. It was midnight and we had booked into an AirBnB. We had to pick the keys up from the owner in Miraflores. We got Peru Hop to drop us off at one of their ‘named’ Miraflores hotels located nearby.
As luck would have it, they put us into a shuttle bus. The driver agreed to wait for us whilst we collected the keys and we paid him extra to take us back to Barranco.
Peru Hop is an excellent, easy, and safe way to tour Peru and Bolivia. Peru Hop have selected an excellent set of destinations … each with something ‘special’ to do or see.
However, I think that they could do better on some of their bus timings and on seat allocation.
Long distance over-night travellers should be allocated the downstairs Business Class seats.
The section from Arequipa to Nazca / Huacachina is a minimum of 10 hours … this should be an overnight leg.
They also need to adjust bus times so that you arrive in Lima well before midnight.